Virtually every product report or field test typically found in Lost Treasure covers a metal detector or some other specialty item designed for treasure hunters, such as a dredge, gold pan, search coil or set of headphones. Well, theres more to a successful day in the field than just the equipment used to find targets...if you are uncomfortable, your lack of focus will be clearly evident at the end of the day when you wonder why you have nothing much to show for your efforts. This product report is on a set of boots, but before you lose interest and turn the page, this report will show you how something as generic as a pair of boots can help you bring home more in your searches.
Ill admit that when the magazine asked me to take a look at a product from a shoe company, the thought of taking time to do a product report on a pair of boots did not really grab me, to say the least. After all, I had a set of decent hiking books I use in my travels and had no real complaints with them.
Wellco Enterprises has a long and distinguished history that dates back to when it was founded in 1941. Producing a variety of shoes and boots for the civilian and military markets, their product quality quickly set the industry standard and other companies began to use Wellcos technology under licensee agreements for their own product lines. In the mid-1960s, Wellco was the first company to receive a government contract to manufacture jungle boots for troops being sent to Vietnam...and subsequently, 11 other companies began producing boots using the specifications and technology from Wellco to outfit the troops. Over the next 40+ years, Wellco Enterprises has been the industry leader in the field of boots for military and law enforcement operations and continues to license their technology to other manufacturers.
Overview & Impressions
If you are like me, you probably get countless of catalogs from outdoor supply companies containing some pretty impressive looking products. Over the years, I have found buying clothes or shoes through the mail more often than not turns into a cycle of returns, looking for the size that really fits since the advertised size never seems to match what should have fit. Well, the boots from Wellco arrived and this is the first time shoes received through the mail actually fit like they were made for my feet.
Seeing the Made in USA tag in each boot may have been a factor...with increasing frequency, virtually everything has started to say Made in Some Country Other than the U.S., and one often wonders what standard some of these companies use to size their products since one rarely finds consistency in sizing across brands. Regardless, I am one that would much rather support companies that produce their goods in the United States and it was great to see that not only does Wellco Enterprises do just that, but their products provided a perfect fit without the need to send them back repeatedly hoping to find a pair that fit. OK, enough about the company and where their products are made...lets look at the boots themselves.
The model designation of the boots (VCL-ICB) actually stands for the product itself. ICB stands for Infantry Combat Boots, which is based on the fact that they are manufactured to the military specifications established for equipping our troops currently stationed in areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan. VCL stands for three attributes these boots offer: VALUE (a more versatile product for less money than the standard government issue boot), COMFORT (cooler than government issue boots due to the improved construction and materials used), and LITE (they weigh less than government issue boots).
Made with a combination of leather and Cordura uppers attached to a unique TUFFKushion sole, which can be resoled if needed, the VCL-ICB boots are designed to provide years of comfort and protection under the most adverse conditions. I received the boots in December and the weather was ideal to get out into the woods or sites along the lake that we tend to avoid in the warmer months due to the critters one comes across, so I forced myself to get out and do some detecting at a number of sites. The temperatures ranged from the 20s all the way up to the mid-70s (another great part of living in the South!), which let me see how comfortable the VCL-ICBs were for year-round hunting. I also tried them in terrain that included thick woods, rocky creek beds and muddy sections of the lake exposed due to an extended drought. T
he end result...the boots were extremely comfortable under a wide range of conditions; they kept my feet dry even when sloshing through sections of the lake that were ankle+ in depth, and the tread pattern helped me stay on track even when my partner found himself hanging onto trees and roots in an effort to stay upright.
The boots reviewed in this report (tan VCL-ICBs) sell for $118.95 direct through Wellco and, after a considerable amount of time in the field with them, I can honestly say they are by far the most comfortable pair of boots I have ever owned and are well worth the price.
As the saying goes, You cant put a price on comfort, and when you lace up a pair of VCL-ICBs youll see where that comes from. Being successful in the field at times requires more than just the right metal detector, digger or search coil. With the right clothing and footwear, you will be able to focus more on hunting and less on your discomfort which, in the end, translates to more finds in your pouch.
A black version of the VCL-ICB is also available. For more information on all the boots and related accessories available from Wellco Enterprises, contact Grady Burrell at 150 Westwood Circle, Waynesville, NC 28786, call 828-550-0360, or e-mail gburrellwellco [dot] com. Be sure to mention you heard about their product line in Lost Treasure Magazine!